John Finn, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, whose modest demeanor belied his legendary status as an American hero, died Thursday at age 100.
Assigned to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on Dec. 7, 1941, he was believed to be one of the first Americans to take up arms against the Japanese when they bombed the air base at Pearl Harbor, securing a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a training stand in an exposed area of the parking ramp, which was under heavy machine-gun fire from Japanese planes. He continued for more than two hours despite being hit 21 times by bomb and bullet fragments.
His Medal of Honor citation credited him with “extraordinary heroism” and “devotion above and beyond the call of duty.”
The citation read, “Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy’s fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety.”
(READ the full tribute at San Diego Union-Tribune)